Food guide by age: when and what to eat

We consume food every day without knowing what our body’s needs and demands are. Nutrition is different in different stages of life and this is a fact that just cannot be ignored. Why is it said that fast foods should not be consumed at a certain age or at any age for that matter? Why do pregnant women need more calories? Why do children require more Calcium and Vitamin D at a certain stage of their growth years? Why is it important to cut down on certain foods after a specific age is reached? We try and find answers to these questions and more in this piece.

Formative and growing up years (0 to 20)

Babies from 0 to 6 months should be solely on breastfeed. This is due to two reasons. One, they cannot digest any outside food yet and two, and the most important is that breastfeed contains all the essential nutrients and water content that babies need at that stage of their lives. From 6 months to 3 years, it is best to start solids and introduce one food at a time. This is the stage when children need calcium, iron, and zinc. This can be obtained from natural sources like vegetables, fruits, cereals, etc. From 3 to 11 years is when the growth spurts happen. Children need more protein at this stage of their life in order to grow. They also need iron to be alert in their activities. This is also the stage when they are likely to consume sugary and fast foods. They should be introduced to the importance and benefits of consuming fresh fruits and vegetables.

The dietary requirements for men and women are different. From 12 to 20 years, children need protein and a balanced diet for all round development. Girls entering puberty should eat a diet rich in calcium.

Working and family years (21 to 60)

This is the phase when college, work, and family take the centrestage and a lot of hard work is done in life. Studies, career goals, and starting a family may take a toll and it is important for the diet to be rich and balanced. This is also the stage where a woman may decide to have a baby. It is therefore imperative that her diet contains B12, calcium, iron, and other essential nutrients during and post pregnancy.

Old age (60 and above)

The body’s metabolism slows down in these later years. It is important to consume food that is nutritious and rich in fibre. High-energy foods may be avoided at these ages. This is also one time where our body may require supplements so a visit to the doctor regularly is also a must.




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